This was way back 15 to 20 years ago when my friends and I used to eat tacos in L.A. at 2 in the morning. I was living in the here and now, had long hair and went to see all the local rock bands on the Sunset Strip every single weekend. Man, I must’ve seen every hair band that came out in those days. My life is so different now, although every once in a while, something would take me back in time. And I always enjoy reminiscing.
But this time around it’s not nearly as pleasant.
Back in the late 80’s there was this Long Beach radio station called KNAC that I religiously listened to. It was dubbed, the loudest station on the planet. And rightfully so, as it was a heck of an alarm clock for me in those days. I remember the morning dude, Thrasher, he had a tagline… “Wake up screaming, Thrasher in the morning!”… that was indeed worth waking up to. Anyhow, I was gonna say, the bad news is that there was another DJ there that was really, really cool. Her name’s Tawn Mastrey. Before even KNAC went off the air, she had moved on and eventually she ended up in Minnesota.
Two nights ago though, she died.
Now, she might not be a household name in the media world but to a small circle of headbangers who proudly associated themselves with the cult of KNAC, she was a goddess. I mean, she, along with the other guys, was the voice of the underdog, the air guitar and air drum playing beach bums whose tailgate parties happened in the Long Beach Arena parking lot hours before Iron Maiden hit the stage.
The news of her death reminded me of how I felt during KNAC’s last day on the air. It was sometime in ’95. I was driving somewhere in SoCal. I remember needing to pull over to listen during the last few minutes. It was so painful when they finally played their last song as they faded into blackness. The song? Metallica’s Fade to Black, what else?
How bitterly appropriate it was.
For a couple of years, the silence was deafening. Until one day, on the internet… kaboom!!! Just like turning the radio dial, I type in knac.com on Netscape 3’s address bar. Keeping my fingers crossed, I waited for my dial-up connection to load up the graphics-heavy site with its familiar black background. And 2 minutes later, there it was! The loudest station… I mean, dot com on the planet, staring me in the eyes! My jaw dropped. I now raced to find the button that said PLAY. And when I did, it was ’87 all over again!
Anyhow, Tawn’s passing just made me think of this station more than ever before as it was a big part of my 20’s. And even though my taste for music has widened and moved quite far away from the KNAC format, every once in a while I still crave that loud, obnoxious, jackhammer in your skull music that I grew up listening to. Besides, the station is kind of an alma mater of sorts. When you’re a big part of it at some point, you’ll always have that sense of eternal affiliation. So as a tribute to Tawn and KNAC, I embedded the radio here on my website so I can listen to it anytime I want without having to visit the website.
Okay, I gotta get some sleep. I’ll see you back here soon.
Meanwhile, here’s to you, Tawn – \m/ – May God have mercy on your soul.